OK. There have been other developments in the news, and the original statement was always absurd. But my go-to blog on the Caucasus, A Fistful of Euros, has some sobering analysis of the future course of the region:
Russia has no interest in Abkhazia and South Ossetia being prosperous developing liberal economies with access to World Bank technical assistance and IMF loans. Russia likes having economically shaky gangster states for clients. Look at the last ten years in the North Caucasus. Or, for that matter, 1945-89 in Eastern Europe. Russian armies have installed and supported lot of regimes in various places over the last couple of centuries, and there is a pretty consistent trend.
What’s interesting — and sort of depressing — is that the war seems to have damaged the prospects for liberal democracy for all four parties. Not that those prospects were bright in Russia or South Ossetia anyhow, but still: all the participants are seeing a tightening of press controls, a strengthening of the nationalist line, and a general boost to the authoritarian pretensions of the current ruling class. And this is likely to get worse before it gets better… if it ever does get better.